Review: Cheeseburger Links from Super America (Speedway)
I began my day with the idea that I would go around town eating plain hot dog after plain hot dog to see if there was a distinguishable difference between the offerings of gas stations, food courts, and hardware stores. After sampling the hot dog in my local Target store food court, I headed over to the nearest Super America where I knew I could find a hot dog on one of those weird grills where the stainless steel tubes rotate to keep from burning the hot dog… and you get to use the community tongs to make your own selection. Sure enough, there was the rack of hot dogs and all the other hot dog shaped things truck drivers love to eat, like brats, cheese filled brats, and polish sausages. But it wasn’t any of these that caught my eye. I know, you’re thinking: C’mon Murray, get with the times, man. They have egg rolls and taquitos and all sorts of things on the roller grills nowadays. No. This was something totally different…
Story side note:
You don’t actually eat at a gas station. Some of them have those little high tables, but they’re really only there for people to fill out an employment application or to scratch off a lottery ticket before they get into their car and don’t have the gumption to come back and buy another one. When I say I’m eating at a gas station, I mean I’m buying food at a gas station and eating it while I drive (not recommended). Take your food to go. OK, back to the story. As I was saying, I had just encountered something totally different from anything I had ever seen before, and yet, it was one of the most familiar icons of 20th century Americana all at the same time. Sometimes, things are so simple, they are brilliant. It made me wonder (almost out loud) how no one had thought of this before. A cheeseburger, in hot dog form. Every backyard barbeque from coast to coast for the last 50 years has featured hot dogs and hamburgers. Why had no one dreamed up the idea of mashing ground beef into a hot dog shape and putting it on the grill? I’ll tell you why: Because it looks disgusting. It looked like someone took a wet hot dog and rolled it under the refrigerator to collect a bunch of dust and crumbs, then threw it on the grill (they’re the lumpy things in the back of the grill picture, to the right of the corn dogs). When I got in close to take a gander, I had a flashback to those scenes from the old Wren and Stimpy cartoons where they would zoom in real tight to see a flea on their skin, revealing a microscopic level pig pen.
Super America (Speedway) is calling this thing a “Cheeseburger Link”. I call it a sign of the apocalypse. Dogs and cats, living together! It’s mass hysteria! There was only one thing left to do. Try it. The sign clearly read: 2 for $2, but I didn’t care if they were 12 for $2, I was only going to eat one.
I looked over both shoulders, in fear and humility, to make sure no one was watching. The bun drawer was stocked full and I opened one up and put it in my paper boat (for rookie convenience store eaters, the buns for the hot dogs are located in a drawer under the grill and are included in the price). I picked up the tongs, but quickly realized that this tongs lacked the tether that most have, meaning someone could have dropped this on the floor and just put it back in the tongs holder without telling anybody. I circled around to the other side of the rack where a tongs, properly fastened to its off-the-floor position, awaited. It was a bit of a reach from this side, and I had to tell myself to keep my face away from the front of the grill as I contorted under the sneeze guard to reach the link at the back of the rack. As I squeezed the link with the plastic tongs, I could tell already I was not going to like the consistency of this, this, this… thing. I grabbed another bun and threw in a standard hot dog as a chaser, in case my gag reflex kicked in. As I walked to the counter to pay, I felt as awkward as a guy buying a box of feminine napkins for his girlfriend waiting in the car. Luckily, the attendant was a man of substantial girth who clearly could not cast a judging eye my way. Once safely at home, I went to the fridge to see what I could add to this monstrosity. I wondered: Do I put condiments on it like a hamburger or like a hot dog? I quickly realized there was really no sense in debating this since they were essentially the same with the principal difference being that pickles, onions and tomatoes are generally diced on a hot dog, and sliced on a hamburger.
With more ketchup and mustard than I normally use on a hot dog or a hamburger as a hopeful buffer, I took a bite. It was a strange sensation, because my brain had me ready for a hot dog flavor and hot dog texture, but instead I tasted and felt cheeseburger. It took me about half the link to complete this mental cartwheel, but as soon as I did, reality set in. I was eating a gas station quality cheeseburger in the shape of a hot dog. As bad as a gas station cheeseburger can be, at least they look and feel like a cheeseburger. This was mushy, but somehow held together with some type of congealant. The texture would be like taking a handful of raw ground hamburger (without pressing it into a patty), putting it in the microwave for 30 seconds and then eating it with your bare hands. The taste was mostly salt and grease, but like the lowest quality salt and grease on the market. There was a hint of beef and less of a hint of cheese. I was expecting the cheese to be injected into the middle like in a cheddarwurst, but instead, it was mixed in with the ground beef much like the syrup nuggets in the pancake batter on a McGriddle (let’s make no mistake, I am not comparing the quality of my favorite breakfast sandwich with this abomination, I’m only trying paint a picture of the cheese integration technique). The feeling I got after finishing the link was like the feeling you get after throwing up. It sucked, but at least it’s over. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to…
Pros: You could be in on the ground floor of America's next summertime BBQ staple.
Cons: You may as well eat something off the ground or floor. Texture: 1
Grubbing on-the-go: 8.00/10
Price: 2 for $2 (for a limited time)